Human-level intelligence is familiar in biological hardware – you’re using it now. Science and technology seem to be converging, from several directions, on the possibility of similar intelligence in non-biological systems. It is difficult to predict when this might happen, but most artificial intelligence (AI) specialists estimate that it is more likely than not within this century.
Continue reading Now it’s time to prepare for the Machinocene
Freed of biological constraints, such as a brain that needs to fit through a human birth canal (and that runs on the power of a mere 20W lightbulb), non-biological machines might be much more intelligent than we are. What would this mean for us? The leading AI researcher Stuart Russell suggests that, for better or worse, it would be ‘the biggest event in human history’. Indeed, our choices in this century might have long-term consequences not only for our own planet, but for the galaxy at large, as the British Astronomer Royal Martin Rees has observed. The future of intelligence in the cosmos might depend on what we do right now, down here on Earth.
By Elizabeth Boakes, a research associate at the Centre for Biodiversity and Environment Research at University College London. Edited by Sally Davies
A small boy hauls enthusiastically on his fishing rod. The line flies up and a needle-spined fish strikes him in the eye. Desperate to stay outdoors, he ignores the pain, but his sight deteriorates over the following months. He continues to pursue his love of nature but, now blind in one eye, he is confined to studying creatures that are easy to see: insects. He grows to become the global authority on ants, and in later life is given the moniker ‘the father of biodiversity’.
Continue reading Biodiversity isn’t just pretty: it future-proofs our world
Mining asteroids might seem like the stuff of science fiction, but there are companies and a few governments already working hard to make it real. This should not be surprising: compared with the breathtaking bridges that engineers build on Earth, asteroid-mining is a simple, small-scale operation requiring only modest technological advances. If anything is lacking, it is the imagination to see how plausible it has become. I am afraid only that it might not arrive soon enough to address the urgent resource challenges that the world is facing right now.
Continue reading Want faster data and a cleaner planet? Start mining asteroids
NASA’s space observatory Kepler may have discovered a possibly Earth-like planet, a rocky world orbiting a Sun-like star at almost the exact same distance Earth orbits our own Sun: Kepler-452b!
Continue reading Earth 2.0: Kepler-452b
“The new Earth” is located 1,400 light-years from us. It orbits a Sun-like star that is 4% more massive and 10% brighter than our Sun. Kepler-452b is 1.6 times the size of Earth and the scientists are fairly sure that it is a rocky world.
Somewhere in the Central Coast of Australia, two kangaroos are caught on camera in an intense boxing match on a suburban street. The marsupials can be seen punching and kicking each other close to houses in Central Coast, New South Wales. It is not clear where the action was filmed.
Continue reading Two kangaroos get into boxing match (video)
In this incredible video below, the funny fight goes on for more than five minutes. Luckily, both kangaroos were OK and not seriously harmed after the match.
The Great White Sharks, kings of the seas. They are fearless hunters. And they are big: a mature individual can grow up to 6.4 m (21 ft) in length (there are even reports of great white sharks measuring over 8 m (26 ft), and 3,324 kg (7,328 lb) in weight). According to Wikipedia, “The great white shark has no natural predators other than the Orca.” But this is not always true. Sometimes, great whites attacks and even hunt each other.
Even though the great whites are known to generally avoid conflicts with each other, the phenomenon of cannibalism is not alien to this species. This rare phenomenon, has been caught on camera recently: London-born diver Adam Malski (33) filmed a fight between two great white sharks 50 kilometers off the coast of South Australia’s Neptune Islands.
Continue reading Great white shark fight caught on camera (video)